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Tone (HELP)

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Croftcw, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    I'm getting so aggravated trying to get a rich, smooth tone out of my gear and would like some input on maybe what the problem is. I have always been much more of a player and not so great on the tone end of things but it really needs to get better and start complimenting my playing.

    Gear:
    1. 1973 Fender Twin
    2. American Deluxe Tele(Maple Neck, N3 Noiseless Pickups)
    3. Handwired Ts-808, Paisley Drive, Carbon Copy Delay, MXR Custom Comp, Ernie Ball VP, Snark Tuner, Cry Baby Wah.
    4. Elixir 10's, Wegen/Blue Chip Picks 1.4 mm

    I do not understand how my tone sucks with gear like this. I play in a country band and I play everything from jazzy originals to merle haggard to Jason Aldean stuff. I am a very very versatile player and at times I will do shreddy rock type stuff and other times I'll be doing Brent Mason style stuff. I cannot seem to get a versatile tone to accommodate the differences in styles at all. I need a thicker, warm distortion for the Aldean rock style stuff and I need a tight/high output type of sound with a little meat on it(Paisley Drive) for songs like workin' man blues etc. I constantly have to reach down and screw levels up trying to adjust volume and tone on my pedals and amp during gigs and I can't stand it anymore.

    Problems

    1. No versatitility
    2. Low output (Is this the n-3 noiseless?) Should I switch to seymour duncan or some fralin's?
    3. A tightness in tone (No warmth or smoothness)

    Maybe the Twin is just too old and outdated and I need a new amp. I just need my tone to reflect my level of performance on the guitar and I am so frustrated with it. I think it is either crappy pickups, an outdated amp or bad amp EQ.

    Can someone please give me some advice?

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    Probably not what you want to hear but seems you have a common ailment that occurs among younger players --- every sound but the right sound.

    You have bought into the bs that going through 6 pedals or whatever will improve your sound - but it doesn't. Every guy I ever jammed with who uses more than 2 or 3 pedals has their tone sucked away by all the wire etc the signal goes through, particularly compression and echo plus most distortion pedals. Chorus pedals are the worst IMO although I sometimes use one to split into stereo through 2 amps. A buffer may help if you have more than 50 feet of wire.

    It may not be possible to sound like recording idol players, who are out there with a sound tech and probably $350,000 or more of pro gear. Am using a 68 sf twin or a Blues Jr with Area T noiseless and don't have your problem. Then again I don't try to sound like everyone else. Would suggest you get back to basics and rely on 2 hands and tone controls on the guitar and no more that 2 or 3 pedals.

    There's nothing wrong with your gear except you have to re-think item 3 on your list and get some of that pedal garbage out of your sound. Being dependent on a compressor and an echo to deliver the goods is bad news.
     
  3. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    Bartholomew3- Thanks a bunch for the input. Honestly, my background is in bluegrass flatpicking and I have never had to rely on anything other than a good pick and a good acoustic guitar so now that I am playing electric very often in a live setting, I am not used to constantly changing settings and stomping on pedals. I very much prefer the less is more approach but I have to be able to switch sounds to adjust to the styles that I am playing live. I really do not like how dry and sharp the tone of the twin is. I used to have a blues junior and I loved the tone but there was too much breakup. My pedalboard seems fairly small compared to most players that I have seen. I only use two drives, the ts-808 for heavier stuff and the paisley for country, one delay, a compressor, a volume pedal and a wah. I'm not really sure what I should cut out of that besides the wah. I really think the n3 pickups have low output and the amp is just not smooth.

    But cutting the pedal chain down may help so thanks a bunch for suggesting that.
     
  4. El Reclusa

    El Reclusa Tele-Afflicted

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    Could also be that you're using a Twin- and I'm guessing that, unless you're playing stadiums, it's probably not turned up past 3 or 4? Maybe try Bartholomew's advice, and also use a smaller amp you can turn up a bit?
     
  5. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    With heavy drums and bass AND another rhythm guitarist. How are you supposed to get a boost for leads without using a compressor or a boost? Maybe I could jack the amp volume up and play more quietly until a lead or something. Not having a compressor would actually be great.
     
  6. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    Loose the compressor and delay - they will ruin your projection on leads and guarantee poor tone. These 2 items are your biggest problem.

    Play the twin on approx 5.5 or 6 - wherever you start to get a bit of breakup. Use the volume and tone controls on the guitar to get the right level. Don't use reverb ever with a live band - it washes away your sound.

    For volume boost - use one of the OD pedals - set one up for almost clean boost, the other for more dirt if required.
     
  7. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    El Reclusa: I usually don't turn up past 4. I can turn the master volume up and get the tubes really opened up that way but then the tone becomes way too punchy. I can get twang with my tele and the way that I pick so I would like to have an amp that is naturally warmer and smoother sounding than the twin. Not to mention that the dang thing has cinderblocks in it lol. Any smaller amp suggestions?

    Thanks a bunch
     
  8. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    Bartholomew3: Will do. I'll try that this weekend.
     
  9. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

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    My thoughts:

    1) Try playing straight into your amp. Work the volume (on amp & guitar) and tone (ditto) and see if you can get a tone that you like. Fender Twin is a very loud, clean amp, so you may not get the "thick, warm" sort of overdrive tones that you want unless you turn up to a loud volume, but the first task is to see if it's even possible to get a tone you like out of your amp & guitar.

    2) Assuming you're happy with your basic tone, it's possible that you just need a buffer in your effects chain. You may be losing tone because of all the wire between your guitar and amp, but a buffer often solves this problem. I'm not sure from your list of pedals whether any of them are already buffered or not, so you will want to figure that out before you go any further (e.g. I think the classic Tube Screamers are probably buffered but I don't know if the hand-wired one would be).

    I say this because, just to offer my own experience in contrast to Bartholemew's, I usually play with 5-9 pedals and don't feel like it's destroying my tone at all (but I only use 1 or 2 at a time, maybe three but hardly ever).

    That said, if I didn't like my clean tone, and I didn't like my tone with one pedal (the overdrive, for solos), I wouldn't be happy, regardless of how many pedals I added. I have a MusicMan 130, which is very similar to a Twin, i.e., I have to depend on my OD pedal to provide most of the clipping or "dirt" in my sound.

    3) If, at this point, you like your tone without the pedals but you don't like it with the pedals, then do as Bartholomew says, and strip the pedals out of your rig, and only add back in the ones you absolutely need.

    It may be that, coming from an acoustic background, you're just not used to the effect that different pedals (and their controls) will have on your sound, so that's why you spend so much time fiddling. So find a couple of pedals that you like, and set them up so they sound good even if they don't sound exactly like what you hear in your head. In other words, try it with just one basic solo tone regardless of what style the solo is in, rather than trying to get everything to sound just like the record. If your chops are good (and it sounds like they are) that's far more important to how "good" it will sound to the audience than what effects are being used.

    4) Another option, since you're concerned that your overall sound is too "weak", would be to add a clean boost a the beginning of your chain. You may want it on all the time, or maybe only for solos. The MXR Micro Amp, Duncan Pickup Booster and BBE Boosta Grande are all popular. The EHX LPB-1 is also a good boost, although a little dirtier.

    Just my two cents'...
     
  10. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

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    Didn't see this when I wrote my previous reply. This is all good, specific advice, IMO. Although I would say that you can use a "little" delay and a "little" reverb live. I put my amp reverb on 1 or 2, and sometimes use a quiet delay to fatten up my solos a little (i.e. basically only one barely audible repeat at stage volume).
     
  11. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    It takes a while to get it all going right. I had a couple of top 20 singles in Canada and made Billboard in the sixties before I knew what it was all about.

    Only started using the volume controls on my guitar a couple of years back and like OP always had the twin on 4 or 4.5 with the guitar maxed-out.

    This forum helped me and hopefully will help you. It's a good thing that you recognize the problem so you should be able to find a way through it.

    Many players just don't get it and keep wanking out the same lousy sound through multiple pedals. Some of the pros I know use multiple pedals and sound great but it's the exception rather than the rule.
     
  12. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

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    Ha. I don't feel so bad now. I also only started using my volume and tone controls in the last couple of years, but only had ~20 years of local indie band experience. :D
     
  13. xFallenx

    xFallenx Friend of Leo's

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    +1 :) Luckily I never got caught up in pedals since I am a bright and clean guy. El Reclusa maybe right too a smaller amp may help. I had a Fender 2x12 Hot Rod Deville and it sounded great ,but I couldn't turn it up like I wanted to. Right now I have a small amp and it works perfect for what I need :)
     
  14. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    PS - I sometimes also use slight reverb and/or delay at lower volumes also but not when I'm pumping out the leads at higher volumes.
     
  15. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

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    As far as amps go, the challenge is that he's playing country, so presumably there are a lot of songs where he wants that loud, perfectly clean tone that you can get out of a Twin or MusicMan. That's a challenge I face playing ska & reggae (which has a lot more overlap with country music than you might suspect). I want to have a clean, crisp sound for rhythm, but a nice overdriven sound for solos. So a loud, clean amp + pedals works for me, but there are plenty of ways to make it sound like crap if I'm not careful.
     
  16. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    When you say 5.5 or 6 are you referring to the master volume or the "volume". I can't seem to find the right mix with these. I'll look for the bit of breakup though and try using the tone more on my guitar. I started doing this about 3 weeks ago and realized that I probably shouldn't be maxing out ALL the time.

    In regards to the volume boost, The paisley drive is perfect for that. It adds that little bit of hair that I need to beef up the clean channel a bit.

    This is all great advice
     
  17. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    Man you read my mind with the fiddling around ha. That is exactly right, I am inexperienced and can't decide on one "sound".I really like suggesting using a single "solo" tone that essentially works for everything I am doing. This would cut out the fiddling and "messing" in between songs and let me be able to concentrate on my playing. As I am sure you know, when you like your sound, you play better. It's just very hard to use the same setting for a chicken pick'n solo on workin' man blues and "My Kinda Party"(HATE that song). Maybe there is in between that would work for both.

    1. This is probably a dumb question but what is a "buffer". (Relatively young in the pedal world...I know ha)
    2. The boost is a great idea, I will look into that for sure.
    3. I'll mess with the amp and guitar tone straight through and start from there.
    4. You are right about not being used to the effects that my pedals have on my sound. I get a tone I like for one song and then when I have to turn up my overdrive for the next, everything falls to pieces. It just seems impossible to dial everything in the right way.

    This is all really great advice though and thanks a bunch for taking the time to give your two cents.
     
  18. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Maybe your tone doesn't suck. Although having a wah is a bad sign.
     
  19. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

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    Behave.
     
  20. Croftcw

    Croftcw TDPRI Member

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    I suppose that this is definitely a work in progress. I used to just worry about my playing, now I have to worry about my playing and fight the tone war haha. I have seen MANY young guitarists hide behind tone and pedals and I can't stand seeing that. I want to be known as a player who uses the bare minimum and who creates most of the tone with his hands and attack. I am a little biased since I am a flat picker at heart. The forum has already helped me a lot and so I am def. glad that I joined. Up until a couple weeks ago, I maxed out on my guitar volume so I am going to try to just get a perspective change on everything.

    Thanks a bunch
     
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